Dora da Gama was only six years old when she dashed after her wind-blown Mickey-ears hat and was run down by an incoming tram at section Pluto Five. The distraught parents flew her body back to Brazil where, after a viewing by her extended family, she was taken to the Cemetery of Saint John the Baptist and laid to rest.
Her mother had nightmares a week later. Dora cried out that she was in a bad place. The terrified girl begged for release. The tormented mother started seeing Dora’s face everywhere, but especially in mirrors. A family friend arranged a session with a spiritualist, where it was revealed that the child’s soul was indeed the hostage of powerful forces.
The family asked me, Paulo Santos, to rescue her. Their formal request for access to the Mansion had been denied, so there I was at the back, making my way through a utility door, careful to avoid the pressure plates that signaled an intruder.
Four in the morning, and the maintenance crew had already made its last sweep through the Mansion. I stood in the dark, listening. Nothing but a faint whirring from the interior. And a low thumping, which had to be the beating of my heart.
“Spirit of this place,” I said, snapping on my Maglite, “release the child Dora da Gama. In the name of the Holy One and the Seven Sacred Angels, I command you to release her.” The whirring stopped, then started up again. Probably some mechanism resetting itself, I guessed.
I moved up the Doom Buggy track, sliding along the empty cars, swiveling them out of my way as I headed for the attic. The whirring sound increased, as did the pounding of my heart. Halfway up, the temperature dropped so that I could see my breath in the Maglite beam. The infernal malefactor of the house was making her presence felt.
“She won’t let her go.” I turned and discovered the apparition of a small boy seated in a Doom Buggy. He was ragged and thin, with mournful eyes. “She won’t let any of us go.” He put his face in his hands and sobbed. The back of his skull was missing.
“I release you,” I said, signing the cross, “from the hold of the Evil One. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” The boy’s crying ceased. He looked up, his face transformed into a malevolent mask.
“It will take more than words, wizard,” he snarled, “to steal her from me.” His eyes burned like coals in a raging furnace. “You have no power here. Begone!” He cackled and vanished, leaving behind a putrid odor that seeped over me like rancid tide from the backwater of Hell.
Now the battle was upon me. “Saint Michael the Archangel,” I prayed, “defend us against the ruler of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” A low rumble shook the Mansion, and I scrambled up the track as the Doom Buggies swiveled wildly, almost knocking me off the track.
And all the while the whirling grew into a windstorm buffeting me, pounding in my ears like the wild tattoo of my straining heart.
I gained the attic, where the horrific bride awaited me with her coterie of dead husbands. These murdered spouses glowered, needing only their killer’s command to pounce. The bride’s red heart beat in time to mine. She leered at me, her arms around the shoulders of Dora da Gama, restraining the terrified girl.
The shaking on the track increased and I fell to my knees, losing the Maglite. It shattered in the darkness below. The blue-faced bride beckoned me forward with a skeletal hand.
“Crawl!” she shrieked, gloating. “On your knees, wizard. Beg for the girl!”
“Most glorious Prince of the Heavenly Armies," I prayed, gasping. “Come to the assistance of your servant, created in your likeness and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.” I struggled to my feet, took a few steps, fell again. I got to my knees. “God of Peace!” I cried. “Crush Satan beneath our feet, that he may no longer retain men captive. Without delay, send your mercy down upon us!”
A shaft of white light penetrated the gloom between the bride and me. She screamed and redoubled her grip on the girl, whose spirit was slowly evaporating into the light. I moved forward on my knees, but the freezing winds buffeted me with the stench of death. My entire body was shaking, paralyzed by a tightness of the muscles I could barely endure.
“Release her,” I croaked between clenched teeth. The bride’s heart beat hideously fast as more and more of the girl’s spirit seeped through her bony grasp. “Release her,” I said again, in vain trying to make the sign of the cross. The bride howled as the last shreds of the girl disappeared into the light. I saw the bride’s heart explode, just before I passed out.
Into the darkness of my swoon swooped Dora da Gama, smiling and skipping. She came over and hugged me hard around the neck. “Gracias, Padre,” she said, her face buried in my chest. “Gracias.” Saved, she ascended into the light.
When I came out of my trance, I beheld my broken body lying on the track, its heart exploded.
To this day, no shaft of light has ever come for me. I serve out eternity under the thumb of the satanic bride who lords it over me, for my sins are many. The horrors I am forced to endure defy description, even had I had a vocabulary dark enough to name them.
When you next come to the Haunted Mansion, look for me in the attic, third coffin on the left. Take pity on me, and send someone to pry me loose from the grasp of the Evil One.
"Trapped in the Haunted Mansion"
Copyright: © 2010 Robert Meade
Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to a Healthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.